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Radu Lupu (Mary Roberts for Decca)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of the remarkable Romanian pianist Radu Lupu. He died in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 17, 2022, following a long illness. He was seventy-six.

A frequent performer with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for nearly fifty years, Lupu appeared with the ensemble in Orchestra Hall, at the Ravinia Festival, in Carnegie Hall, and on tour to Bucharest, Romania and Berlin, Germany.

“I was deeply affected when I heard about the passing of Radu Lupu, one of the greatest pianists of our time,” Riccardo Muti wrote from his home in Ravenna. “I had great respect for him as an artist, and we always looked forward to making music together. It was with Lupu that I led memorable performances of Beethoven’s five piano concertos with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, and I will always treasure that experience. I am so grateful for his most recent visit with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2017 for even more Beethoven. He was a wonderful and sensitive person and I considered him a dear friend.”

Lupu made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in October 1972, under the baton of Carlo Maria Giulini. “Six years ago, a young Romanian pianist named Radu Lupu won the quadrennial Van Cliburn International Competition and then returned quietly to his studies. Last night, twenty-seven now and bearded, he made a historic local debut in Beethoven’s Third Concerto,” wrote Roger Dettmer in the Chicago Tribune. “Reports of his achievement should include a mention of phenomenal technical command, a range of tonal color and dynamics evidently unlimited, and a control of nuances as well as the big moments that awed. . . . As no other pianist in memory, not even Rachmaninov, he became a spirit trumpet through whom we heard the composer speak.”

A complete list of his performances is below:

Radu Lupu and Riccardo Muti backstage at Orchestra Hall on April 29, 2017 (Todd Rosenberg Photography)

October 5 and 6, 1972, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor

August 1, 1973, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Lawrence Foster, conductor

August 3, 1973, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
Lawrence Foster, conductor

April 18 and 19, 1974, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

August 6, 1977, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Edo de Waart, conductor

August 7, 1977, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467
Franz Allers, conductor

January 12, 13, and 14, 1978, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
Erich Leinsdorf, conductor

Radu Lupu performs Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Riccardo Muti on April 27, 2017 (Todd Rosenberg Photography)

March 26, 27, and 28, 1981, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Fantasy in C Minor for Piano, Chorus, and Orchestra, Op. 80 (Choral Fantasy)
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

March 8, 9, and 10, 1984, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Leonard Slatkin, conductor

January 31, February 1, 2, and 5, 1991, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491
Neeme Järvi, conductor

February 10, 11, 12, and 15, 1994, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

January 31, 1996, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, K. 448
Daniel Barenboim, piano
MOZART Concerto for Three Pianos in F Major, K. 242
Elena Bashkirova, piano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano
MOZART Concerto for Two Pianos in E-flat Major, K. 365
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano

January 30, 31, February 1, and 4, 1997, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Radu Lupu and Riccardo Muti following a performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on April 27, 2017 (Todd Rosenberg Photography)

September 19, 1998, Sala Mare a Palatului, Bucharest, Romania
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

January 12, 14, 15, and 16, 1999, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

February 10, 11, 12, and 15, 2000, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
David Zinman, conductor

April 22, 2000, Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

February 21, 22, and 23, 2002, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor

October 3, 2002, Carnegie Hall, New York
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

February 13, 14, and 16, 2003, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Radu Lupu (Zdenek Chrapek photo)

February 16, 17, and 18, 2006, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466
MOZART Concerto for Two Pianos in E-flat Major, K. 365
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano

February 25, 26, 27, and March 2, 2010, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Gianandrea Noseda, conductor

January 10, 11, 12, and 15, 2013, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
Edo de Waart, conductor

April 27, 28, and 29, 2017, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Riccardo Muti, conductor

Following the April 27, 2017, performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, Hedy Weiss in the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “Lupu’s often quiet but brilliantly expressive articulation compels listening by means of understatement, and yet there is an undeniable grandeur about it. And in tandem with the orchestra, he brought a dreamy tranquility to the slow passages of this familiar work that was metabolism-altering. The pianist’s emotional connection and eye contact with both Muti and the CSO musicians was both visible and audible at every moment.”

Lupu also gave a number of recitals in Orchestra Hall, as follows:

February 10, 1988 (with Murray Perahia)
January 21, 1990
February 13, 1994 (with Daniel Barenboim)
January 31, 1996 (with Daniel Barenboim)
February 11, 1996 (with Daniel Barenboim)
February 9, 1997 (with Daniel Barenboim)
January 21, 1998
November 24, 2000 (with Daniel Barenboim)
January 27, 2002
January 15, 2004 (with the Staatskapelle Berlin and Daniel Barenboim)
February 19, 2006 (with Daniel Barenboim)
February 10, 2008
January 31, 2010

This article also appears here.

Ralph Johnson and Lois Schaefer onstage with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in December 1953

If you’ve tuned into CSOtv recently, you may have noticed that in the December 1953 concert, Lois Schaefer is sitting in the first-chair position!

Hired by fifth music director Rafael Kubelík in 1951, Schaefer served the Orchestra as assistant principal flute until 1954. She was the third woman rostered in the flute section, following Caroline Solfronk Vacha (1943-1946) and Peggy Hardin (1945-1951).

Born in Yakima, Washington, on March 10, 1924, Schaefer attended the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp as a teenager, later studying at the New England Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Georges Laurent (principal flute of the Boston Symphony Orchestra), Frank Horsfall, and Sebastian Caratelli. She completed her bachelor’s of music in flute performance in 1946 and an artist diploma the following year.

Lois Schaefer in the 1960s (image courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)

During her time in Chicago, Schaefer also taught at Chicago Musical College. By 1956, she returned east and was hired as principal flute of the New York City Opera, where she would remain for ten seasons. During this time, she also performed and recorded with the NBC Opera Theatre Orchestra, the RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra, and the Columbia Symphony Orchestra.

In 1965, Schaefer was hired by then–music director Erich Leinsdorf to the position of flute and principal piccolo for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, her “dream job.” During her twenty-five-year tenure, she also served as principal piccolo for the Boston Pops Orchestra. “In more than 2,000 Boston Pops performances of [John Philip Sousa‘s] ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever,’ a moment always arrived when Lois Schaefer was the star of the show,” wrote Bryan Marquard in the Boston Globe. “Though she was a master of the memorable piccolo solo that is the highlight of the song, she didn’t take her eyes off the musical score—not in her first concert, not in her 2,000th. She was determined to never make a mistake on her notoriously difficult instrument, which sometimes waits silently through portions of concerts, only to suddenly be highlighted for all ears to hear.”

Schaefer served on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music from 1965 until 1992. She also was a board member of the National Flute Association, receiving their second-ever lifetime achievement award in 1993.

According to her sister Winifred Mayes, a cellist with the BSO from 1954 until 1964, Schaefer was “very, very happy in Boston. . . . She loved the orchestra and the people in it. She always felt very secure and warm towards them, and they towards her. I think it was perfect for her.”

Lois Schaefer in the late 1980s (photo courtesy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives)

In her final season in Boston, Schaefer was soloist in Daniel Pinkham‘s Concerto Piccolo, written especially for her. Upon her retirement in 1990, Globe music critic Richard Dyer wrote, “For her twenty-five years as solo piccolo, Lois Schaefer has been the highest, brightest voice in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. . . . To hear her in a Rossini overture is like watching the sunlight dance on rippling water. She can also break your heart with a perfectly placed high pianissimo in a Mahler or Shostakovich slow movement.”

Lois Schaefer died at the home she shared with her sister in Sequim, Washington, on January 31, 2020, at the age of ninety-five. She was survived by her sister Winifred Mayes until her passing, also in Sequim, on December 15, 2020, at the age of one hundred and one.

Lois Schaefer performs as first-chair flute in a December 9, 1953, Hour of Music telecast, currently available on CSOtv. Guest conductor and former music director Désiré Defauw leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Grétry’s Three Dances from Cephalus and Procris, a suite from Fauré’s Pelleas and Melisande, and Schumann’s Fourth Symphony.

Special thanks to Bridget Carr and the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives.

Wishing a very happy seventy-fifth birthday to the remarkable Romanian pianist Radu Lupu! A regular performer with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for nearly fifty years, he has appeared with the ensemble in Orchestra Hall, at the Ravinia Festival, in Carnegie Hall, and on tour to Bucharest, Romania and Berlin, Germany. A complete list of his performances is below.

Radu Lupu (Mary Roberts photo for Decca)

October 5 and 6, 1972, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Concerto for Piano No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor

August 1, 1973, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Lawrence Foster, conductor

August 3, 1973, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
Lawrence Foster, conductor

April 18 and 19, 1974, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

August 6, 1977, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Edo de Waart, conductor

August 7, 1977, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467
Franz Allers, conductor

January 12, 13, and 14, 1978, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
Erich Leinsdorf, conductor

March 26, 27, and 28, 1981, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Fantasy in C Minor for Piano, Chorus, and Orchestra, Op. 80 (Choral Fantasy)
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

March 8,9, and 10, 1984, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Leonard Slatkin, conductor

January 31, February 1, 2, and 5, 1991, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491
Neeme Järvi, conductor

Radu Lupu performs Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Riccardo Muti on April 27, 2017 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

February 10, 11, 12, and 15, 1994, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

January 31, 1996, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Concerto for Three Pianos in F Major, K. 242
Elena Bashkirova, piano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano
MOZART Concerto for Two Pianos in E-flat Major, K. 365
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano

January 30, 31, February 1, and 4, 1997, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

September 19, 1998, Sala Mare a Palatului, Bucharest, Romania
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

January 12, 14, 15, and 16, 1999, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

February 10, 11, 12, and 15, 2000, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
David Zinman, conductor

April 22, 2000, Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

February 21, 22, and 23, 2002, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor

October 3, 2002, Carnegie Hall, New York
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

February 13, 14, and 16, 2003, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Radu Lupu (Zdenek Chrapek photo)

February 16, 17, and 18, 2006, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466
MOZART Concerto for Two Pianos in E-flat Major, K. 365
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano

February 25, 26, 27, and March 2, 2010, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Gianandrea Noseda, conductor

January 10, 11, 12, and 15, 2013, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
Edo de Waart, conductor

April 27, 28, and 29, 2017, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Riccardo Muti, conductor

Happy, happy birthday!

Walfrid Kujala in 1997 (William Burlingham photo)

Wishing Walfrid Kujala—a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s flute and piccolo section from 1954 until 2001—a very happy ninety-fifth birthday!

A native of Warren, Ohio, Kujala grew up in Clarksburg, West Virginia, where he started flute lessons when he was in the seventh grade. (His father, a bassoonist, steered him to the flute in order to “save him” from the headaches of reed making.) While attending high school in Huntington, West Virginia, he studied with Parker Taylor, principal flute of the Huntington Symphony Orchestra, and  played second flute with the ensemble from 1939 until 1942.

Kujala attended the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Joseph Mariano, principal flute of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. His college career was interrupted by two and a half years of military service in the U.S. Army, serving in the 86th Infantry Division Band from 1943 until 1946. During his tour of duty in the Philippines, after the end of hostilities, Kujala was briefly a member of the Manila Symphony Orchestra. From Eastman, he received his bachelor of music degree in 1948 and a master’s degree in 1950, and he was a member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra under Erich Leinsdorf from 1948 until 1954. Kujala also served on Eastman’s faculty from 1950 until 1954.

In 1954, sixth music director Fritz Reiner hired Kujala as assistant principal flute of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and in 1957, he became principal piccolo, serving in that capacity until 2001. He also performed as principal flute of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra from 1955 until 1960.

As a soloist, Kujala has appeared under Reiner, Sir Georg Solti, Seiji Ozawa, Antonio Janigro, and Lawrence Foster. He also has soloed at the Stratford and Victoria Festivals in Canada, as well as recitals, chamber music concerts, and master classes across the United States.

Kujala, Gunther Schuller, and Sir Georg Solti following the world premiere performance of Schuller’s Flute Concerto on October 13, 1988 (Jim Steere photo)

Kujala joined the faculty at Northwestern University in 1962 and taught there for fifty years, retiring in 2012. In honor of his sixtieth birthday, his students and colleagues commissioned a flute concerto from Gunther Schuller, and Kujala was soloist in the world premiere with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Solti on October 13, 1988. On August 19, 1990, he was soloist in the U.S. premiere of Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Concerto for Flute under Kurt Redel, at the National Flute Association convention in Minneapolis. The Chicago Flute Club’s biennial international piccolo competition is named in his honor.

The author of the textbook The Flutist’s Progress, Kujala also regularly contributes articles and editorial to several publications, including The Instrumentalist, Flute Talk, Music Journal, and Woodwind World. He is a founding board member and founding secretary of the National Flute Association, where he also served as president, vice president, and board chairman. Kujala and his wife Sherry make their home in Evanston.

Happy, happy birthday!

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of legendary soprano Jessye Norman, who died earlier today in New York. She was 74.

Jessye Norman (Royal Philharmonic Society photo)

A frequent visitor to Chicago—on concert, recital, and opera stages—Norman appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as vocal soloist and narrator on many occasions, both at Orchestra Hall and the Ravinia Festival. A complete list of her performances and recordings with the Orchestra is below.

March 21, 22, and 23, 1974, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Das Paradies und die Peri, Op. 50
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Birgit Finnilä, contralto
Ernst Haefliger, tenor
Raffaele Arié, bass
Sarah Beatty, soprano
Isola Jones, mezzo-soprano
Philip Creech, tenor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

May 29, 30, and 31, 1975, Orchestra Hall
LA MONTAINE Songs of the Rose of Sharon, Op. 6
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

August 9, 1975, Ravinia Festival
BERLIOZ Les nuits d’été, Op. 7
Edo de Waart, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

Receiving bows following Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at Orchestra Hall on September 24, 1986

Receiving bows following Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Orchestra Hall on September 24, 1986 (Jim Steere photo)

July 7, 1978, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Ch’io mi scordi di te?, K. 505
Edward Gordon, piano
RAVEL Sheherazade
BERLIOZ The Death of Cleopatra
WAGNER Wesendonk-Lieder
WAGNER Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
James Levine, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

July 9, 1978, Ravinia Festival
MENDELSSOHN Elijah, Op. 70
James Levine, conductor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Jessye Norman, soprano
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Beverly Wolff, mezzo-soprano
Isola Jones, mezzo-soprano
Philip Creech, tenor
Kirk Stuart, tenor
John Cheek, bass
Philip Kraus, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

July 8, 1979, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
James Levine, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Seth McCoy, tenor

March 26, 27, and 28, 1981, Orchestra Hall
BRUCKNER Te Deum
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
David Rendall, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on March 28, 1981. For Deutsche Grammophon, Steven Paul was the executive producer, Werner Mayer was the recording producer, and Günther Breest was the balance engineer.

December 1, 2, and 3, 1983, Orchestra Hall
MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
Erich Leinsdorf, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
David Rendall, tenor

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 (Solti 2)

September 24, 25, 26, and 27, 1986, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Reinhild Runkel, mezzo-soprano
Robert Schunk, tenor
Hans Sotin, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on September 29 and 30, 1986. For London Records, Michael Haas was the producer, John Pellowe was the engineer, and Neil Hutchinson was tape editor. The recording won the 1987 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

July 1, 1988, Ravinia Festival
WAGNER Act 1 of Die Walküre
James Levine, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Gary Lakes, tenor
Aage Haugland, bass

July 5, 1992, Ravinia Festival
STRAUSS  Ruhe, meine Seele, Op. 27, No. 1
STRAUSS Waldseligkeit, Op. 49, No. 1
STRAUSS Wiegenlied, Op. 41, No. 1
STRAUSS Die heiligen drei Konige aus Morgenland, Op. 56, No. 6
STRAUSS Cäcilie, Op. 27, No. 2
WAGNER Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
James Levine, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

Boulez Bluebeard

December 2, 4, and 7, 1993, Orchestra Hall
BARTÓK Bluebeard’s Castle
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
László Polgár, bass
Larry Russo, narrator
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on December 6 and 13, 1993. For Deutsche Grammophon, Roger Wright was the executive producer, Pål Christian Moe was the associate producer, Karl-August Naegler was the recording producer, Helmut Burk was the balance engineer, Jobst Eberhardt and Stephan Flock were the recording engineers, and Hans-Ulrich Bastin was the editor. Nicholas Simon was the narrator for the commercial release. The recording won the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

June 22, 1996, Ravinia Festival
BERLIOZ Villanelle, Le spectre de la rose Sur les lagunes, and L’ile inconnue from Les nuits d’été, Op. 7
RAVEL Sheherazade
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

James Conlon acknowledges Norman following her narration of Copland’s Lincoln Portrait at the Ravinia Festival on July 18, 2009 (Russell Jenkins photo)

June 21, 1997, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Vado, ma dove?, K. 583
MOZART Porgi amor from The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492
BIZET Habanera from Carmen
SAINT-SAËNS Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix from Samson and Delilah
STRAUSS Final Scene from Capriccio
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

July 18, 2009, Ravinia Festival
COPLAND Lincoln Portrait
James Conlon, conductor
Jessye Norman, narrator

Norman also also appeared in recital and as soloist in Orchestra Hall (under the auspices of Allied Arts and later Symphony Center Presents) on the following occasions:

Jessye Norman in Orchestra Hall on May 19, 2002 (Peter Thompson for the Chicago Tribune)

January 5, 1986
Phillip Moll, piano

October 20, 1986
STRAUSS Four Last Songs
Berlin Philharmonic
James Levine, conductor
Herbert von Karajan was originally scheduled to conduct Strauss’s Metamorphosen and Ein Heldenleben, but he canceled a week before the performance due to illness. The revised program was Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, Strauss’s song cycle, and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.

October 23, 1988
James Levine, piano

March 20, 1992
Phillip Moll, piano

April 2, 1995
Ann Schein, piano

June 3, 1998
Ken Noda, piano

May 19, 2002
Mark Markham, piano

Numerous tributes have been posted on CNN, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, The New York Times, and NPR, among many others.

Norman Schweikert in 1988 (Jim Steere photo)

It is with great sadness that we share news of the passing of Norman Schweikert, a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s horn section from 1971 until 1997, who passed away at his home on Washington Island, Wisconsin on December 31, 2018, after a brief illness. He was 81.

A native of Los Angeles, Schweikert began piano lessons at the age of six, added violin soon after, and turned to the horn at age thirteen. His first horn teachers were Odolindo Perissi and Sinclair Lott, both members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. During high school, Schweikert won a scholarship to the Aspen Music Festival, where he studied with Joseph Eger. In 1955, he auditioned for Erich Leinsdorf, then music director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and won his first professional post as fourth horn there. He was its youngest member and in succeeding years played second and third horn.

While in Rochester, Schweikert attended the Eastman School of Music and performed and recorded with the Eastman Wind Ensemble under Frederick Fennell. Studying with Morris Secon and Verne Reynolds, he graduated in 1961 with a bachelor’s degree and a performer’s certificate in horn. During his eleven-year tenure in Rochester, Schweikert served three years with the United States Military Academy Band at West Point as well as five years on the faculty of the Interlochen Arts Academy as instructor of horn and a member of the Interlochen Arts Quintet.

In June 1971—at the invitation of music director Georg Solti—Schweikert joined the Chicago Symphony as assistant principal horn, just in time for the Orchestra’s first tour to Europe. In 1975, he was named second horn, the position he held until his retirement in 1997 (he continued to play as a substitute or extra until June 2006). Schweikert appeared as a soloist with the Orchestra on a number of occasions, and in March 1977 he—along with colleagues Dale Clevenger, Richard Oldberg, and Thomas Howell—was soloist in the recording of Schumann’s Konzertstück for Four Horns under the baton of Daniel Barenboim for Deutsche Grammophon.

In 1970, Schweikert chaired the International Horn Society’s organizing committee and served as its first secretary and treasurer. He continued on the advisory council, contributed many articles to The Horn Call, and was elected an honorary member in 1996. From 1973 until 1998, Schweikert served as associate professor of horn on the faculty of Northwestern University.

In his retirement, Schweikert and his wife Sally—a thirty-year veteran of the Chicago Symphony Chorus—made their home on Washington Island in Wisconsin, where he performed with the Washington Island Music Festival. They were longtime members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association, regularly attending annual reunions. Schweikert also continued his research into the lives of U.S. orchestra members, a project that he started while studying at Eastman, and his collection of material on the subject is likely the largest private collection of its kind in the world. In 2012, Schweikert’s book The Horns of Valhalla—the story of horn players Josef and Xaver Reiter—was published by WindSong Press Limited.

Schweikert is survived by Sally, his beloved wife of fifty-seven years; and their son Eric, principal timpani of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Details for a memorial service are pending.

Wishing a very happy seventieth birthday to the wonderful American soprano, Barbara Hendricks!

Hendricks has appeared as soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a number of notable occasions between 1974 and 1985, indicated below:

December 5, 6, and 7, 1974, Orchestra Hall
AMY D’un epace deploye (U.S. premiere)
Barbara Hendricks, soprano
Anthony Paratore, piano
Joseph Paratore, piano
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Gilbert Amy, conductor
MOZART Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio!, K. 418
Barbara Hendricks, soprano
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

October 7, 8, and 9, 1976, Orchestra Hall
DEL TREDICI Final Alice (world premiere)
Barbara Hendricks, soprano
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

March 3, 4, and 5, 1977, Orchestra Hall
March 7, 1977, Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
DEBUSSY La Damoiselle élue
Barbara Hendricks, soprano
Ellen Stanley, mezzo-soprano
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Gennady Rozhdestvensky, conductor

October 27 and 28, 1977, Orchestra Hall
October 31, 1977, Carnegie Hall
MAHLER Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major
Sir Georg Solti, conductor (October 27 and 28)
Margaret Hillis, conductor (October 31)
Christiane Eda-Pierre, soprano
Lucia Popp, soprano
Barbara Hendricks, soprano
Jan DeGaetani, mezzo-soprano
Helen Watts, contralto
Kenneth Riegel, tenor
William Walker, baritone
Donald Gramm, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

David Del Tredici with Sir Georg Solti and Barbara Hendricks in Chicago, October 1976 (Terry’s photo)

October 26 and 27, 1979, Orchestra Hall
DEL TREDICI Final Alice
Barbara Hendricks, soprano
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Recorded by London Records on October 27, 1979, January 29, and 30, 1980, in Orchestra Hall. The recording was produced by James Mallinson; James Lock, John Dunkerley, and Michael Mailes were the recording engineers.

December 19, 20, and 21, 1985
STRAUSS Scenes from Der Rosenkavalier, Op. 59
Mechthild Gessendorf, soprano
Barbara Hendricks, soprano
Ann Murray, mezzo-soprano
Erich Leinsdorf, conductor

Happy, happy birthday!

We have just received word that Rubén D’Artagnan González, a concertmaster with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1986 until 1996, died in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on August 13, 2018, after a long illness. He was 79.

González began studying the violin at the age of five in his native Argentina. He became a student of Osvaldo Pessina in Buenos Aires, later completing his studies with Salomon Baron in France and Riccardo Brengola in Italy. First prize winner of the International Competition of Barcelona in 1965, González also received the silver medal at the Geneva Competition and the diploma of honor of the Chigiana Academy in Siena, Italy.

A former member of I Virtuosi di Roma, González was music director of the Camerata Bariloche, Argentina’s leading chamber orchestra, with which he toured extensively and recorded Martinů’s Concerto da camera for Philips. Other solo recordings included violin sonatas by Prokofiev and Honegger along with works by Ginastera.

González served as concertmaster of the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra, associate concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1977 until 1981, and later concertmaster of the Houston Symphony from 1981 until 1986, when he was invited by Sir Georg Solti to be one of two concertmasters (along with Samuel Magad) of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. González appeared on numerous recordings and as soloist with the Orchestra on several occasions, including Beethoven’s Violin Concerto under Solti, Busoni’s Violin Concerto with James Paul, Chausson’s Poème and Haydn’s C major violin concerto under Erich Leinsdorf, Ginastera’s Violin Concerto with Dennis Russell Davies, Mozart’s D major Serenade under Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Sibelius’s Violin Concerto with Herbert Blomstedt, and Strauss’s Violin Concerto under Daniel Barenboim. In 1996, González resigned as concertmaster to continue his work as a conductor and composer.

As an educator, González served on the faculties of Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, the University of Minnesota, Congress of Strings, and the Bariloche Foundation in Argentina. He was a longtime member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association.

Upon his resignation, González wrote to his colleagues, “The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has been the crowning of my career as an orchestral musician and concertmaster. I keep the Orchestra in my heart as the jewel of my music-making life. I am most grateful to all of you for your support, help, and friendship throughout these ten years.”

Services have been held.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the death of Karel Husa, the eminent Czech-born composer and conductor. He was 95.

Composer, soloist, and conductor backstage, following the premiere.

Husa, Herseth, and Solti backstage following the world premiere of the Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra on February 11, 1988 (Jim Steere photo)

Husa was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1969 for his String Quartet no. 3, and he was awarded the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition in 1993 for his Concerto for Cello and Orchestra.

The Orchestra first performed Husa’s Music for Prague 1968 under Sergiu Comissiona in April 1973 and again in December 1986 under Erich Leinsdorf.

To celebrate Adolph Herseth‘s fortieth season as principal trumpet, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra commissioned Husa to write the Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra. Under the baton of eighth music director Sir Georg Solti, Herseth was soloist in the world premiere at Orchestra Hall on February 11, 1988. The Orchestra also performed the work multiple times during the first tour to Australia later that same year (details of the tour are here and here).

Adolph "Bud" Herseth and Sir Georg rehearse Husa's Trumpet Concerto in Perth

Herseth and Solti rehearsing Husa’s concerto in Perth in March 1988 (Jim Steere photo)

In the spring of 1976, the major American political parties had not yet hosted their conventions to nominate candidates for president. But on May 11—the day after the first of three concerts at Carnegie Hall by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Sir Georg SoltiDonal Henahan of The New York Times had a suggestion:

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“Solti’s Chicagoans Stimulate a Yen to Yell”

It is pretty well agreed now, among decibel collectors, that the audiences at Chicago Symphony concerts make more noise than anybody. If you happen to pass Carnegie Hall tomorrow or Friday night and notice that sturdy old monument rocking slightly on its foundations, do not worry: It is only the Chicago orchestra’s fans going happily mad over a performance conducted by Sir Georg Solti. (Don’t run out to buy tickets, by the way; Chicago Symphony concerts are invariably sold out as soon as they are announced.)

The sheer fervor, somewhat resembling religious fanaticism, that characterizes the New York ovations for Chicago/Solti, is a phenomenon worth some sociologist’s study. Of course, the Chicago Symphony is one of the world’s great orchestras, and Sir Georg is undeniably one of the world’s most exciting conductors. The cheering is, therefore, aimed at real quality.

But the Dionysian frenzy that many observers have commented upon goes beyond ordinary enthusiasm into the category of the demonstration. Chicago players and Sir Georg himself have confessed that the intensity of these ovations in New York takes them aback. Thoughtful musicians cross their fingers, in fact. They have seen reputations rise and fall, for what seems too little reason either way, and know how capricious and irrational audiences can be.

The Chicago/Solti phenomenon has been compared to the cult that grew up around Toscanini and his NBC Symphony a generation ago, to the Stokowski fan clubs of his Philadelphia Orchestra years and to the von Karajan mystique in some sectors of the musical world today. Unsophisticated music listeners, with the help of judicious publicity agents, love to fasten upon an idol, to proclaim this or that artist “the greatest” and fall prostrate at mention of the holy name. Other and wiser folk simply like to cheer what they regard as the best. Cheering is an emotional purgative, a primal scream that often seems to do the screamer more good than the

The New York Times, May 11, 1976

The New York Times, May 11, 1976

Beyond the obvious fact of its lofty quality, there are several arguable rationalizations for the kind of hysteria regularly generated by the Chicago under Sir Georg. When the orchestra made its first Carnegie Hall appearances under him six years ago, many knowledgeable New Yorkers were simply flattened by what they heard. The Chicago Symphony—unlike the Cleveland under Szell, the Boston under Leinsdorf, the Philadelphia under Ormandy—had not been a regular visitor.

Fritz Reiner, who built the orchestra to its current level in the late 1950s, hated touring. He refused to do the kind of barnstorming to high prestige places that would have made the Chicago Symphony’s greatness apparent to more than the blessed few who heard it regularly in its own Orchestra Hall during Dr. Reiner’s ten‐year regime.

The fact, which Sir Georg readily admits, is that the Chicago Symphony as it stands (or sits) is largely the product of the Reiner years. The Solti genius has consisted in making splendid use of a ready‐made instrument. Not the least amazing thing about the Chicago’s current status as a symbol of excellence is that of all major American orchestras it is the oldest: Most of the players date back to the Reiner years before.

Another possible factor in the Chicago’s popularity is the high percentage of opera fans who frequent these concerts. One of Sir Georg’s first smash successes at Carnegie came in 1971 with a concert performance of Wagner’s Das Rheingold, and he subsequently offered four other operatic attractions. His sixth, on Friday night, will be The Flying Dutchman.

Sir Georg, you remember, had been artistic director of London’s Covent Garden opera house, and his renown as an opera conductor fattened considerably when he completed the first Ring cycle ever produced on commercially available recordings, for London Records. And, since opera enthusiasts on the whole are famous—or notorious, as you wish—for treating their heroes and heroines to hysterical ovations, Chicago/Solti has not suffered from being attractive to the opera set.

prez

Another and probably more disputable conjecture: there existed in New York at the time of the Chicago/Solti arrival on the scene, a considerable number of people who yearned to hear concerts led by an unashamedly passionate “maestro,” preferably someone cast in the Toscanini mold. To some extent, Leonard Bernstein in his early years with the Philharmonic fulfilled the needs of this sizable and vocal constituency.

But when Pierre Boulez took charge of the Philharmonic these New Yorkers missed their former feeling of audience participation. They came to regard themselves as disenfranchised musical citizens. Mr. Boulez seemed to them more acoustical scientist than performer, and his analytical talents and objective approach to music were largely unappreciated. For this emotional breed of listener, the coming of Chicago/Solti offered a chance not merely to applaud but also—almost in the political sense of the word—to demonstrate. It was as if they were sending a message.

The yen to yell can come to be as important to certain audiences as the music itself. Opera fans, in particular, seem to regard their demonstrations of affection and approbation as part of the performance, and that can be obnoxious when carried too far. But any continuing audience, such as the one attracted by the Chicago/Solti concerts, is also acting out a communal claim to eliteness. It is proclaiming its own superior taste and knowledge, as well as showing the performers how much they are appreciated: We happy few who know what’s what, we proud melomaniacs, we who make (and can easily break) heroes, salute.

In any event, the Chicago Solti ovations are likely to go down among the legends of New York’s cultural life. And perhaps the explanation is simpler than suggested here. When the inevitable ranting and raving is heard at Carnegie Hall, it may merely be one sector of the musical electorate voting for its concept of what orchestral concerts should be. The Chicago Symphony for President, as it were. Well, we could do worse.

The 1976 U.S. presidential election was held on November 2, 1976. Georgia governor Jimmy Carter, the Democratic party candidate, ran against and defeated incumbent president Gerald Ford, the Republican candidate.

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Theodore Thomas

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The opinions expressed here are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

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